Figures or not?

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ge_rik
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Figures or not?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:04 am

On one of Bertie B's threads ( viewtopic.php?f=39&t=13456&start=75#p169323 ), Andrew has posted a link to an article which suggests that adding figures to a garden railway actually reduces its realism rather than enhances it.
http://gardenrailwayrealism.pbworks.com ... nal%20view

Rather than diverting Bertie B's thread and because I've recently had several friends 3D scanned to produce a set of figures in period costumes for my railway - viewtopic.php?f=54&t=13944#p169224 - I wondered how other people feel.

Do you think adding miniature figures enhances or detracts from the realism of a garden railway?

Rik
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Re: Figures or not?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:14 am

I seem to recall that there is a group of garden railway modellers who insist that models should only be constructed from the same materials as the real thing - ie steam locos have to be made from metal, wooden coaches have to be made from wood (with metal fittings), etc.

Presumably, they would argue that a model person must be made from flesh and blood.

As a prolific user of plastic, I certainly don't adhere to that view. To my mind, when something is miniaturised, then the properties of the raw materials change. For example, wood grain doesn't easily scale down. And besides, part of the fun in modelling is finding ways of making models look realistic. Hence the art of weathering.

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Jimmyb » Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:55 am

ge_rik wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:04 am

Do you think adding miniature figures enhances or detracts from the realism of a garden railway?

Rik
I have a few (very few) figures on my Railway, as part of a small cameo, and I do have figures is some carriages, I think a lot depends on your Railway, a garden with a Railway running through it, or a miniature representation in the garden. The right figures in the right place can certainly enhance, but if your grandchildren come "play" with your trains, then they can get in the way, or prevent meaningful play. So I am easy either way, do it your way, and enjoy the way you do it.

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by philipy » Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:03 am

I think it enhances things, as long as it is done thoughtfully. ie a man standing still reading a newspaper is fine but the same man in a running pose - balanced on the toes of one foot- looks stupid ( IMO of course!). Similarly, seated passengers in a coach are fine, because for the few seconds that you see them as the train passes, they would normally appear to be still.

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Peter Butler » Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:20 am

I have long held strong, personal, opinions about the use of figures in a model railway, of all scales. I insist on having a driver in locomotives, otherwise the are just runaways! Passengers are important too, otherwise why run passenger stock? Standing figures, in static poses are useful if correctly placed, but those in 'motion' look silly, as described by Philip.
The sculpted figures and 'comic' characters are outdated by the use of 3D modelling, so realistic and period costumed figures are my favourites.
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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Andrew » Thu Jun 23, 2022 10:28 am

ge_rik wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:14 am
I seem to recall that there is a group of garden railway modellers who insist that models should only be constructed from the same materials as the real thing - ie steam locos have to be made from metal, wooden coaches have to be made from wood (with metal fittings), etc.

Presumably, they would argue that a model person must be made from flesh and blood.
Those behind the erstwhile Garden Railway Realism group were largely of that view, and indeed used the "flesh and blood" argument as a reason not to include figures in a garden railway, as I recall!

That approach has influenced some aspects of my work, for instance I prefer to use real wood wherever possible, but I have no metal-working skills so plastic has to do the job there! As for flesh and blood little people, I've made four over the years but, although they started out pretty small, they were way over-scale when first produced, and they kept getting bigger...

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Andrew » Thu Jun 23, 2022 10:30 am

philipy wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:03 am
I think it enhances things, as long as it is done thoughtfully. ie a man standing still reading a newspaper is fine but the same man in a running pose - balanced on the toes of one foot- looks stupid ( IMO of course!). Similarly, seated passengers in a coach are fine, because for the few seconds that you see them as the train passes, they would normally appear to be still.
Yep, that's my take too. A few decent figures, well chosen and positioned are an enhancement...

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Andrew » Thu Jun 23, 2022 10:47 am

Peter Butler wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 9:20 am
I have long held strong, personal, opinions about the use of figures in a model railway, of all scales. I insist on having a driver in locomotives, otherwise the are just runaways! Passengers are important too, otherwise why run passenger stock? Standing figures, in static poses are useful if correctly placed, but those in 'motion' look silly, as described by Philip.
The sculpted figures and 'comic' characters are outdated by the use of 3D modelling, so realistic and period costumed figures are my favourites.
I agree re drivers, although too few of my locos have them! That's possibly because I don't make the engines myself - I don't consider a carriage finished until it's got some passengers, and all of my brake vans have a guard, even if he's barely visible once the roof's on...

I'm with you on "comic" characters, and would add badly proportioned ones to the list - A personal dislike is figures with heads the size of beach balls! I think 3D printing of figures (like Rik's recent ones) is a bit of a game-changer, but I started garden railwaying back when modifying Star Wars and similar figures was all the rage, so I have a large collection of those to work through before I splash out on buying 3D printed ones.

Another factor is that hacking about plastic figures, putting them back together and giving them a new coat of paint is part of the modelling process I enjoy, which is supposed to be the name of the game. In many ways my figures are probably less realistic than the carriages they ride, but I like putting them there!

Each to their own though, of course. One of the things I liked about the Garden Railway Realism gang was their willingness to talk about these things without being shouted down by anguished cries of "it's my railway, I'll do what I like"! Of course it is, and no-one's ever suggested otherwise, but I think it sometimes gets forgotten that those who like running figure-less, rivet-counted trains to an accurately one train a week 1920s schedule aren't putting anyone down, they're just doing what they like too...

Alas, realism's gone too far on the (WH)WHR today - there may be a lot of figures, but there aren't any trains:

Strike.jpg

Cheers all,

Andrew

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by philipy » Thu Jun 23, 2022 11:13 am

:lol:

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jun 23, 2022 12:24 pm

I think it was Iain Rice who said that exhibiting a model railway was a bit like putting on a play. The layout is the stage and the trains are the cast who enter, perform and leave.

We don't take our layouts to exhibitions but rely on photos or videos to share what we've done with others. To my mind, static figures look ok on both still and video images but, as others have said, provided the poses are static - standing and chatting or waiting or sitting. I have acquired a couple of running figures, but I don't think I've ever used them.

When shooting videos, I try to remember to change the figures on platforms between shots. When just running the railway for my own enjoyment I will either leave the figures in situ throughout the session or, sometimes, not bother to deploy them at all - particularly if I'm a bit pushed for time.

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by philipy » Thu Jun 23, 2022 1:31 pm

ge_rik wrote:
Thu Jun 23, 2022 12:24 pm
I think it was Iain Rice who said that exhibiting a model railway was a bit like putting on a play. The layout is the stage and the trains are the cast who enter, perform and leave.
Yes I'm pretty sure it was Iain who held that philosophy. He carried it forward to his own exhibition layouts where he framed them with a proscenium arch and operated from the front so that he could talk to the punters.

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by BertieB » Fri Jun 24, 2022 11:47 am

Werrp! Werrp! Werrp! Heresy Alert!

Oooh… I set out to achieve, with varying levels of success, a sort of simplified, artificially ‘clean’ presentation with my not-really-to-scale, locos and rolling stock (track too, kind of) and I’d want any figures within to sit comfortably with that. I’d be looking for neat and tidy model figures, when appropriate, not necessarily accurately depicted, miniature (but plastic) people.

As JimmyB suggests above, it’s for “a garden with a railway running through it”.

Though I enjoy, of course, the meticulous attention to detail and believability others achieve, not just with rolling stock but throughout their railways — and I might be about to be struck down by lightning now — for me, it isn’t actually about realism at all. It’s about the thing itself (the model which may well include figures) offering an attractive, satisfying focus of attention, as it trundles about outside…

Phew.

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Jimmyb » Fri Jun 24, 2022 12:07 pm

BertieB wrote:
Fri Jun 24, 2022 11:47 am
Werrp! Werrp! Werrp! Heresy Alert!

Oooh… I set out to achieve, with varying levels of success, a sort of simplified, artificially ‘clean’ presentation with my not-really-to-scale, locos and rolling stock (track too, kind of) and I’d want any figures within to sit comfortably with that. I’d be looking for neat and tidy model figures, when appropriate, not necessarily accurately depicted, miniature (but plastic) people.

As JimmyB suggests above, it’s for “a garden with a railway running through it”.

Though I enjoy, of course, the meticulous attention to detail and believability others achieve, not just with rolling stock but throughout their railways — and I might be about to be struck down by lightning now — for me, it isn’t actually about realism at all. It’s about the thing itself (the model which may well include figures) offering an attractive, satisfying focus of attention, as it trundles about outside…

Phew.
:D

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Re: Figures or not?

Post by Lonsdaler » Sat Jun 25, 2022 11:26 am

I think I have to agree with Bertie - my railway isn't about realism (it is, after all a fictional Dale's railway) but more about achieving something that is my ideal. That doesn't mean I don't try for realistic weathering effects, or realistic buildings, but it does mean I am prepared to entertain what may appear to others to be ridiculous.
For that reason, I'm quite happy to incorporate unrealistic looking caricatures and even cartoon representations. I can't imagine my railway company without Capt. Mainwaring (retired) chivvying the staff along, still resplendent in his Home Guard uniform, or Jones the Driver in charge of Matthew the diesel.
To each, their own. And gain pleasure from doing it, otherwise, what is the point?
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Re: Figures or not?

Post by ge_rik » Sat Jun 25, 2022 12:22 pm

Lonsdaler wrote:
Sat Jun 25, 2022 11:26 am
I think I have to agree with Bertie - my railway isn't about realism (it is, after all a fictional Dale's railway) but more about achieving something that is my ideal. That doesn't mean I don't try for realistic weathering effects, or realistic buildings, but it does mean I am prepared to entertain what may appear to others to be ridiculous.
For that reason, I'm quite happy to incorporate unrealistic looking caricatures and even cartoon representations. I can't imagine my railway company without Capt. Mainwaring (retired) chivvying the staff along, still resplendent in his Home Guard uniform, or Jones the Driver in charge of Matthew the diesel.
To each, their own. And gain pleasure from doing it, otherwise, what is the point?
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